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Geography of Madagascar

Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique

Geographic coordinates: 20 00 S, 47 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 587,040 sq km
land: 581,540 kmē
water: 5,500 kmē


Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 4,828 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles
continental shelf: 200 nautical miles or 100 nautical miles from the 2,500-m deep isobath
exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles
territorial sea: 12 nautical miles

Climate: tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south

Terrain: narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Maromokotro, 2,876 m

Natural resources: graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 4%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 41%
forests and woodland: 40%
other: 14% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 10,870 kmē (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: periodic cyclones

Environment - current issues: soil erosion results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; several species of flora and fauna unique to the island are endangered.

Madagascar has not been connected to another landmass since about 90 million years ago, which has allowed it to evolve many unique species. It is home to 40 species of lemurs, none of which occur anywhere else in the world, a distiction shared by 80% of the island's flora and fauna.

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note: world's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel

Madagascar separated from India about 90 million years ago, and has not been connected to Africa for about 160 million years.

See also : Madagascar